Sexual Assault

320 petitions

Update posted 9 hours ago

Petition to Pope Francis, Father Hans Zollner

To Pope Francis on Sex Abuse, Celibacy and Priestly Formation, Change is Needed Now

In the spirit of your words in your, Letter to the People of God, “that call all of us to participate in the change and healing needed to overcome the ongoing tragedy of the sexual abuse of children by Catholic Clergy.” And your call to: “Look[ing] ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”   As Catholics, and many of us products of Catholic education, we are offering thoughts and suggestions concerning the upcoming Vatican “meeting on the protection of minors in the Church.”  While we generally agree with the apparent course of discussion planned for this upcoming meeting, we believe that much more needs to be done than simple changes in formation requirements and administrative changes in reporting.  While, as an example, the administrative and basic formation changes undertaken by the US Counsel of Catholic Bishops are an excellent start, more affirmative structural changes in the priesthood need to be undertaken. This crisis, as you know has been devastating to all who are Catholics, not just the clergy, the hierarchy, the Holy See, or most importantly of all, the victims themselves.  This devastating period in the Church’s history calls for drastic actions and reevaluations.  As you said in your Letter to the People of God, looking back: “to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 11).”   The one thing that many of the faithful do not understand in any way, is where was the hierarchy’s moral compass?  What could possibly allow supposedly good and moral men to make such grievously bad decisions?  What is missing in your character, as a group? We believe that regular parishioners, hearing that a priest had molested a child, were met with feelings of immediate revulsion, anger and sadness.  Where were these feelings in the hierarchy?  We are focusing particularly on the apparent lack of a sense of revulsion, nausea and horror.  They were absent. This was just an HR, PR problem, that has been seen many times before!  Anyone who has children would have told you 2000 years ago, if not 50 years ago, those priests, bishops and higher, molesting children should have been immediately laicized.  We would argue that immediate excommunication upon the act of sexual contact with anyone under the age of 18 should be placed in the Canon.  The administration and tending to children, is as much a sacred act and trust as the sacrament of reconciliation, whose violation calls for immediate excommunication, Canon 1388.  That would certainly be the view of most Catholics.  If you did this, it would send the strongest of signals to both the clergy and the faithful.  Later administrative actions, Canonical proceedings and moves for laicization could provide a level of fairness and Justice. Matthew 18:6 “But anyone who is the downfall of one of these little ones who have faith in me would be better drowned in the depths of the sea with a great millstone round his neck.” What is missing in the formation process that would allow such sexual deviancy to become a “normal” problem?  We would suggest that the sexual isolation of developing men in many instances can foster a skewed perception, when frustrating normal human urges for affection.  What percentage of priests are 100% continent from all sexually related conduct, 100% of the time?  You know the answer to this question, from studies, probably less than 50% at any one time and much, much lower over a lifetime.  Look at the research of former Monk & Priest A.W.Richard Sipe, who treated about 1000 priests over 30 years.  In his and other reports, significant sexual activity of both those in seminary and ordained are documented.  Why make men live a life where they are hypocrites in this one regard?  Does making men sinners, make them better men, closer to Christ?  As former priest Sipe notes in a court report: “The widespread lack of celibate practice is relevant to the central issue of the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, because a community that publicly proclaims the sexual safety of its members at the same time that it tolerates sexual activity restricts the ability of bishops, vicars, pastors and priests to properly supervise, discipline, and explore the criminal activities of priests who abuse children. Exposure of one part of the system——abusive priests——threatens to expose a whole system that supports a lack of celibate conformity within the priesthood.” Most Catholics would like a well-developed married man as a priest as opposed to an isolated, frustrated, confused priest.  Is there room for unmarried celibate priests?  Absolutely!  But on their own terms, as they see it, as their own consciences tell them.  Some Catholics may want unmarried priests, fine they can find a parish hosting one.  Their fears may be allied by guidelines, such as requesting continence for priests during Lent and the week of Pentecost. We have known priests, young and old, who believe the Canon of celibacy should be lifted.  This is particularly reinforced in light of the allowance for married clergy of other faiths to become married Catholic Priests.  As you know, many, if not most of the early Church leaders were married.  The desire by St Paul to seek out well respected married men with good families, showed a desire to recruit well rounded, fully developed men to serve.  In 1Timothy 3:2-5, “Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children under control with perfect dignity; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of the church of God?” And as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:5 : “Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and brethren of the lord and Cephas?” There were no dictates laid out in the New Testament about an unmarried clergy and continence.  While there were suggestions, there were no orders, perhaps because Jesus and the founding Apostles knew human nature and the hardships and tragedies that would result. In the earliest centuries, many if not most of the presbyters, priests and bishops were married. Popes were married, and 7 early popes were sons of priests.  In more recent times, the problems of enforced celibacy were evidenced in the Congregation of the Clergy’s estimate that 60,000 dispensations were granted between 1964 and 1991, in part to allow priests and clergy to marry.  How may parishes could have been tended to, by those good, married priests?  How many could have still been serving our Masses?  The Second Vatican Council declared that: “perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom … is not required by the nature of the priesthood.” This is clear from the practice of the early Church and the tradition of the Eastern Churches.”   Additionally, listen to your own clergy.  I point to the 2003 letter from 163 priests of the Milwaukee Dioceses, who asked to at least launch a discussion about celibacy in the context of priest shortages. After that, a number of priest organizations around the country supported the letter and its direction at allowing a married clergy.  Of course, this discussion, if you could call it that, was quickly crushed.  We are at a turning point in the history of the Church, now is the time to take bold, sound action.  Regain the trust of the faithful, that you have their, their children’s, and their children’s children’s best interests as a sacred trust, never to be violated again.  Having a substantial portion of married priests would reassure many of the faithful that real change is being instituted, that the isolation of the priesthood is opening up, that people like themselves, with children, will be able to elevate the consciousness of other priests. By bringing back a married priesthood, this would allow for recruitment of more fully developed, mature men.  The ability to recruit for the priesthood would be greatly enhanced and allow for a later “recruiting cycle” after graduation from college.  With more recruits you could have a more selective process.  A more immediate result may be the allowance of many former priests who have married, to return to the priesthood.  This alone may help with the current shortage of priests.  As an aside, while most Catholics (in the United States) appreciate the sacrifices of the many foreign priests we see in our churches in the US, they, for the most part, would like to see priests from their own communities.  If we cannot sustain our own numbers, what does that tell us? We see the closings of parishes in many areas.  I see the jubilation expressed at the numbers in our formation process, however we both know they are well below what is needed for fully staffed churches.  In some diocese there are about ½ the priests of 30 – 40 years ago. We know more and more disillusioned Catholics who are falling away, in large part due to the hypocrisy of the Church over the past 30 years; of this constant, unrelenting, ever increasing, maelstrom of charges that have seemingly endless numbers of priests, bishops, archbishops and now cardinals directly implicated in sexual abuse.  Looking at the Buffalo Diocese alone, the numbers and percentages are shocking, Boston 250, the Pennsylvania report with 300 priests, the Illinois report 185 to 690!  Every diocese is involved, in many locations almost every parish has hosted a predator.  And this abuse appears to be going on around the whole world!  No Catholic has been untouched!  Every continent, except Antarctica, has huge problems.  This isn’t just an American issue, it’s the entirety of the Church! Think of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of victims of similar abuse over the past centuries!  Who cannot weep at the thought?  Thru all this, until recently, the responses from the Church have been un-Christian and for the most part unapologetic.  The hierarchy have acted like criminals, only confessing what the police already knew.  And now you may throw open the doors and publish most-everything because of inevitable search warrants and hard investigations by Attorney Generals, US Attorneys, Federal Grand Juries and the threat of being labeled a Criminal Organization with prosecution under RICO statutes, not to mention possible personal prosecutions.  The Didache 2 : 4-5 “Thou shalt not be double-minded nor double-tongued, for to be double-tongued is the snare of death.” “Thy speech shall not be false nor vain, but completed in action.”   Unfortunately, in many people’s eyes you are criminals, and you have only thrown gasoline on the Church and faithful to immolate us all!  All of the Catholic haters out there feel vindicated.  Unfortunately, all the hate speech about the Pope and hierarchy being evil and workers of the devil, appear to have some foundation to a growing number of people. Many of those Catholics falling away still have faith in Jesus Christ and God the Father, but not the hierarchy of the Church.  As an organization, the Church, thru it’s past actions, has shown that you do not deserve trust.  Trust has to be earned by moral concrete actions, not words.  While the USCCB has taken administrative actions and reforms, they are not enough.  Hope is great, but concrete actions aimed at the heart of the problem, and further follow-through, are what counts. Now is the time for hard to make but necessary concrete actions that would earn back trust. Change the Canon to make sexual contact with anyone under 18 an immediate excommunicable event, as in Canon 1388. Bring back married priesthood to the general clergy, without restrictions, allowing those already ordained to marry. Unlike in the Orthodox Churches, allow for married men in elevated positions, as in the early church; as we believe any married man with children would never, I repeat, NEVER allowed a child molester to remain an ordained Priest.  Married people with children are exactly the ones who should be making these decisions, along with consultations of men and women of the laity, religious sisters and experts. This scourge has been self-inflicted by the Church, from the third century when they deviated from the earliest church practices and added unhelpful obstacles, in an effort to prove their appearance of “holiness and piety” by following some of the more ascetic saints of the early centuries.  This resulted in millennia of problems in trying to enforce, first the rules on continence and then celibacy, and then edicts against marriage.  The cost in human carnage: broken priests, broken marriages, broken women, broken children, broken souls, broken faithful, and broken Church, have not been worth the well-intentioned but misguided efforts.  It reminds oneof the old proverb, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  The long litany of problems is documented throughout Church history. This problem, sown 1700 years ago and refortified in the Second Lateran Council, has turned into a cancer that has metastasized throughout the whole of the Church and will bring it down to a shadow of its former self.  Like the cancer patient with advanced disease, the cancer must be cut out, this is followed by chemotherapy which, while being a curative, is rejected sometimes violently by the whole of the body.  Only then can the body regain it’s strength and thrive.  These actions, as described above, would meet your requirements to transform the culture within the Church.  We acknowledge the administrative & financial hardships ahead, but they are worth the results of a rejuvenated Church, more focused on Christ’s message, with more priests in our churches, The People of God in great support, and more parishioners in the pews.   With the upcoming Vatican meeting on February 21-24,  please share this petition and tag #PBC2019  #CatholicReform @Pontifex #Vatican #Abuse #Catholic

Christopher Tolton
228 supporters
Update posted 17 hours ago

Petition to The Board of VOM USA, Jim Dau

Investigate Why Voice of the Martyrs Funded the Abuse of Nigerian Orphans

In January 2016, while on a mission trip to Nigeria, we were told by some people there of great wickedness that was being perpetrated in Voice of the Martyrs work in Nigeria. Voice of the Martyrs is a ministry that purports to help persecuted Christians. In Nigeria, there were many victims of Muslim persecution, and it was one of their highest profile countries for fundraising. There were several projects in Nigeria, including the Stephen's Center - a home for children effected by persecution, Basic Response - which arranged for care of attack victims, and a prosthetic clinic - to provide limbs for those who had lost them.  We have returned twice after that initial trip to investigate, and are convinced that instead of helping the people of Nigeria, Voice of the Martyrs has been harming people in tragic and shameful ways. For the full story, please watch the video we've posted online, Persecuting the Persecuted. The wickedness we have uncovered includes the following: Isaac Newton, the director of the Voice of the Martyrs in Nigeria, has been accused by many credible witnesses of habitually sexually assaulting girls in the Stephen's Center Isaac continued this abuse by threatening the victims and their families with expulsion from the school or the removal of Voice of the Martyrs monetary assistance Isaac has retaliated against anyone who confronted him or tried to end his wickedness Isaac had stolen much of the funds that was provided by Voice of the Martyrs The children in the Stephen's Center have been mistreated and not provided with the food and supplies that they need Financial corruption has been rampant through Voice of the Martyrs in Nigeria Many victims have not received the money that was specifically raised to help them Through our conversations in Nigeria and more than a year spent urging Voice of the Martyrs to act, we discovered wrongdoing closer to home. It seems that Voice of the Martyrs had reason to know what was going on, and their actions have covered up the evil that was done instead of fighting to end it. There are Voice of the Martyrs ministries in many different countries that although separate, often collaborate. VOM USA is the largest by far and gave most of the funding, and had the most oversight over Nigeria. In our video, you can find a more complete story of our interactions with VOM USA. But to summarize: VOM USA investigated these allegations years before we heard of them. They said their efforts uncovered nothing, yet in just a few days we could assemble a story from many witnesses and while it should not be sufficient for a court, it should have been sufficient to start a real investigation. We know that the allegations of molestation were reported to VOM USA in 2015, yet they did not investigate, but insisted that the abuse had been done by an employee who had died. VOM USA promised to have multiple outside investigations done, but no investigators ever contacted us for any information and we never heard about it again. VOM USA supported Isaac in his efforts to fire two employees who were reporting his abuse, without caring to investigate those allegations of abuse. Even when they eventually defunded Isaac, VOM USA gave land and goods worth over $100,000 to him - someone who they had every reason to believe was abusing those who he claimed to be helping. In our conversations with VOM USA we have on many occasions been told false or contradictory information. VOM USA seems to have been working to delay and distract us to avoid dealing with the issue. VOM USA has repeatedly denied any responsibility for what went on by claiming that VOM in Nigeria was a completely separate organization that they just funded. Yet that obscures the reality that they were far more involved and intertwined, VOM USA having managerial authority over Nigerian employees, making hiring and firing decisions.  Voice of the Martyrs has repeatedly failed to investigate serious wrongdoing when given the opportunity. They have sided with the oppressors instead of the victims. They have repeatedly proven themselves untrustworthy.  We believe that Voice of the Martyrs needs to bring in independent, outside investigators from a well-respected third party to conduct a full investigation and publicly release their findings. Donors need to understand why VOM USA did not fight to end this evil when it was brought to their attention. We need to understand who was involved in allowing this to happen, and how we can have confidence that it will never happen again in VOM USA.    "To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke" - Isaiah 58:6b  "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light." - Ephesians 5:11-13 "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." - John 3:19-21  

Reformation Baptist Church
743 supporters
Update posted 2 days ago

Petition to Nicholas S. Zeppos, Jeffrey Balser

Vanderbilt: do right by BethAnn Mclaughlin

Vanderbilt University's retaliation against Professor BethAnn McLaughlin's courageous stance against sexual harassment is poised to cost her her job. During her tenure process at VU, Prof. McLaughlin became a witness in the sexual harassment complaint against a member of her department. VUMC halted her tenure process for 17 months, as described in a recent article in Science, when VUMC’s Executive Committee of the Executive Faculty approved her tenure. The Dean of the VU School of Medicine, Jeffrey Balser, then asked the Committee to reconsider. The Committee’s voting members included Prof McLaughlin’s new chairman in Pharmacology, Dr David Sweatt, who is now on leave after multiple charges of sexual misconduct came to light including drugging and raping a student. Dr. Sweatt and other members acceded to the Dean's request and voted to deny Prof. McLaughlin's tenure. Prof McLaughlin’s other appointment is in Neurology and her chairman in that department trained with Dr. Sweatt, creating a bewildering lack of internal support for Dr McLaughlin that has only come to light because brave women recently came forward to Vanderbilt’s Title IX office and MeTooSTEM. Prof. McLaughlin will lose her job on February 28th. The signers of this petition are outraged by the unjust treatment of Prof. McLaughlin by Dean Balser and VUMC. This treatment violates our shared values of fairness, accountability, and stewardship, values the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has described as critical to the Integrity of Research (see report). The tenure process is the means by which a professor's contributions to the academic community recognize the scholarship, teaching, and service to their peers. When administrators pressure faculty to reverse their decision on tenure, they bring politics and fear into a process that should be objective and independent. Even the appearance of administrative interference strikes a blow against academic freedom and the expectation of scholarly independence. Research in the biomedical sciences in the US is funded primarily by taxpayers via grants from the National Institutes of Health. Part of the peer-review process by which grant applications are evaluated includes scoring the environment in which the research would be done. The mistreatment of Prof. McLaughlin and perversion of her tenure process raises serious concerns about whether the VU School of Medicine provides an environment that supports the integrity of research and the career advancement of researchers. Although the community continues to debate whether sexual harassment should be designated research misconduct akin to falsification of data, sexual harassment and retaliation against those who report it or bear witness against harassers clearly degrades the research environment. The signers of this petition pledge to apply appropriate criteria in scoring the environment of applications from the VU School of Medicine. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2018 report on sexual harassment in academia recognizes that women rarely report sexual harassment due to well-founded fears of retaliation. The report recommends that institutions promote culture change to honor those who report sexual harassment. To  honor Prof. McLaughlin and other targets of the unfair and unjust environment established by the administration of the VU School of Medicine, the signers of this petition will decline invitations to VU School of Medicine as seminar speakers, site visitors, and conference attendees, and we will protect our trainees from this environment as well.  In conclusion, we request that the Chancellor of Vanderbilt University support the continuation of Prof. McLaughlin as faculty. We remind the Chancellor that the impact of his decision will be felt by the nearly two thirds of women in academic sciences who have recently experienced sexual harassment and by those who support them. We urge the Chancellor to celebrate the values of fairness, accountability, and stewardship by honoring one person who has embodied these values in her actions on behalf of the larger VU community.

Sharona Gordon
5,718 supporters
Started 3 days ago

Petition to Pope Francis

Times Up Pope Francis: Clergy Abuse Survivors and #MeToo Survivors #SpeakOut

Platinum Signers: Johnathon Schaech (Actor), Annabella Sciora (Actress), Dash Mihok (Actor), Rosanna Arquette (Actress), Annabella Sciorra (Actress), Joely Fisher (Actress), Jessica Barth (Actress) 3 Goals: ● End Child Sexual Abuse and Coverups ● Strengthen Child Protection Laws -- End Statute of Limitations for ALL Survivors (both criminal and civil laws) ● Sexual abuse damages all, boys and girls, men and women. End bashing homosexuals as a scapegoat for criminal predators and those criminal officials who cover for them. What You Need To Know Clergy abuse survivors and #MeToo survivors UNITE and #SpeakOut together because when one of us suffers we all suffer. In fighting for justice for one survivor we fight for justice for all! Last year the world watched women of the #MeToo movement #SpeakOut about abuse, and rightly so. Since then major news stories in 2018 disclosed revelations about child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and its cover-up by Church officials. These horrid truths should concern all of us.  We should all be outraged, especially those of us who have children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Dangerous priests have been hidden in plain sight. Catholic hierarchs have spent millions for lobbyists, fighting to keep survivors from the justice system by opposing needed reform.  They know giving survivors access would lay bare the institution's role in covering up these crimes. However, this action denies all abuse survivors legal rights, not just Catholic victims. The Church claims high moral authority when it opposes homosexual marriage, birth control and abortions. At the same time, it allows heinous crimes against children to continue unabated. The impact of the power and influence of the Church is felt throughout our society. Just like in the #MeToo movement, one person’s outcry was routinely dismissed and ignored by the Catholic Church. However, for the past 30 years abuse survivors around the world have begun to unite and #SpeakOut together. These united voices have become a powerful witness. People, including law enforcement officials, are listening. This week Pope Francis and Bishops from around the world are finishing up their summit on the Church’s ever-expanding abuse crisis. They have a lot to discuss. This past year the Pennsylvania grand jury report exposed over 300 “predator priests” in 6 of the 8 dioceses in that state and found more than a 1000 victims. Since the report was released, additional survivors have come forward, and more abusers have been exposed. As many as one in three American bishops have been accused of failing to respond appropriately to cases of sexual abuse. A preliminary report by the Attorney General of Illinois found that approximately 74% of allegations reported to the 6 dioceses in that state were either minimized, or never even investigated in the first place. Bishops in Illinois themselves admitted that they would not “substantiate” an abuse case if only one person had come forward, EVEN IF they believed that person. Survivors, Catholics, law enforcement and the public are uniting to tell Church officials that we will no longer tolerate the protection of the guilty at the expense of the innocent. We cannot let them blame their internal failure to deal with sexual abuse on the homosexual community. They need to look inward, to give more women positions of power as they abolish the ‘old boys club’ network. Until the Catholic Church cleans its own house, we must deny them influence on social issues. #SpeakOut If you were a witness to any clergy crimes or have information about them, follow the inspiring example of Siobhan O’Conner of the Diocese of Buffalo. Report what you know to civil authorities. Notify the media. #SpeakOut When we work together, we can realize the heart's desire of all survivors for the future: that no more children will suffer harm at the hands of a predator. Please, let’s #SpeakOut For those of you reading this who are victims of clergy sexual abuse, whenever or wherever it occurred, you are not alone. What happened to you was not your fault, and does not need to define you. Abuse occurs in isolation--healing happens in community. You don’t have to live in fear and shame. Join your brothers and sisters in the survivor community. #SpeakOut WE NEED YOUR HELP! Sign this Petition to show your support and call for Pope Francis to STOP marginalizing victims and survivors of abuse. Tweet using the hashtag #SpeakOut to DEMAND Pope Francis releases all allegations of abuse to the proper authorities.   Use Hashtag: #SpeakOut to Spread the Word on Social Media Sample Tweets You Can Use To Help You #SpeakOut: “Survivors of clergy abuse and secular institutional abuse are all in this together. We are stronger when we #SpeakOut together. I DEMAND Pope Francis releases ALL allegations of abuse to the proper authorities.” “Catholic hierarchs have spent millions for lobbyists, fighting to keep survivors from the justice system by opposing needed reform. This action denies ALL abuse survivors legal rights, not just Catholic victims. #SpeakOut” “My name is _______ and I DEMAND Pope Francis halts all efforts to obstruct the legal rights of victims of abuse. #SpeakOut”

Johnathon Schaech
465 supporters